A new book explores the symbiosis of espionage and entertainment


Stars and spies. By Christopher Andrew and Julius Green. Bodley Head; 512 pages; £ 20

NST height In his power in the late 18th century, no playwright in Europe was as good as Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarche, the author of The Barber of Seville and The Marriage of Figaro. bottom. He was also a very successful spy and represented the French King’s personal intelligence agency, Secret du Roi. He was sent to London in 1775 to negotiate a contract with a fraudulent French agent, a flashy transvestist. Chevalier Called Deon de Beaumont — Beaumarche reported to Louis XVI’s Foreign Minister Conted Vergenne that pessimism had floated during the war to maintain the American colony.

To expedite Britain’s defeat, Vergenne allowed Beaumarche to set up a front company to supply weapons to American rebels. By early 1777, during a production rehearsal in Le Havre, Beaumarche was able to send nine weapons to George Washington’s army. Surprisingly, his fame did not interfere with his secret activities and may even have helped to avoid suspicion. NS CIAThe Center for Intelligence Research has concluded that his efforts have helped bring American infants “at the most important time of their birth.”

The interaction between show business and espionage was already established before Beaumarche was abused. Symbiosis is not obvious at first, as the stars are in the limelight and the spies are in the shadows, Christopher Andrew, the official historian of British security services. MI5) and Julius Green (theatrical historian and producer). However, they claim that the two professions require similar skills. It’s the ability to deceive, role-play, and create and stick to scripts. Both have a temporary lifestyle that is common to traveling entertainers and undercover agents, and attract characters with peace of mind.

Called the second oldest profession, spies have always regarded entertainment as a useful cover. Alfred the Great pretended to be a harpist and invaded the Danish camp. Legend has it that Troubadour’s Brondel used his license to find a place of imprisonment for Richard I, wandering around Europe. But this fun history begins with an extraordinary intelligence network established by Sir Francis Walsingham, the spymaster of Elizabeth I. Catholic sympathizers such as lute player John Dowland and exiled adventurer Anthony Standen have “turned” to work for a Protestant nation. Standen was a seasoned actor, disguised as “Pompeo Pellegrini” and provided important information about the Spanish invasion plan. Dowland infiltrated a Danish court. Playwright and poet Christopher Marlowe also spy on Walsingham.

In the 17th century, the playwright Aphra Behn made a living as a writer and became the first British woman to be officially hired as a spy by the British government. After the outbreak of the Second Anglo-Dutch War in 1666, she was sent to Antwerp to persuade her ex-girlfriend and Dutch agent to switch camps in a classic honey trap operation. The book then speeds up the era of revolution and counter-revolution with anecdotes of haste and a huge cast of characters larger than the real thing. They include liberal and memoirist Giacomo Casanova, who was probably the first professional spy to describe himself as a “secret agent.”

20th century intelligence is the main focus of the book. Prior to World War I, the author is involved, the spy drama was all anger on both the novel and the London stage.First head of MI5, a fascinating theatrical naval officer called Mansfield Cumming (“NS”), Hired Willie Clarkson in West End costume and offered him a series of disguise. During the war, the most famous agent was a woman. Mata Hari, the most famous and upscale Dutch stripper of all, spies, not very effective, for the Germans, until her capture and execution.

Losing the stage

The much more successful spies were the Prussian prince, her former lover, the singer, dancer, and movie star Mistinguett, who extracted from the location of the last German attack in 1918. Her successor in World War II was the great African-American entertainer Josephine Baker (pictured). After moving to France, he performed a number of missions for the Duciem Bureau in her country of adoption, winning the appreciation of Charles de Gaulle.

During World War II Signal intelligence, Or signal intelligence, in most cases HUMINT,Human race. However, the theater also broke into the British decryption center in Bletchley Park. Before the war, its deputy director, Frank Birch, had a brilliant career as a Pantomime woman, especially as a widow Twankey who was acclaimed for “Aladdin.”Initially the UK main HUMINT The mission was to help the United States persuade the United States to participate in the battle.Head MIWilliam Stevenson, New York’s 6th (foreign intelligence) agency, has recruited star galaxies as influential agents, including Roald Dahl and Noel Coward.

Another newcomer to Stevenson was Hollywood screenwriter and lyricist Eric Mashwitz. He created a forged map aimed at revealing the Nazi master plan to take over South America. President Franklin Roosevelt was completely deceived. Mashwitz BBC TV set.

The book has its drawbacks. For example, surprisingly, spies and adventurers who played “Great Game” between Britain and Russia in the 19th century are omitted. Sometimes the stylistic connection between the two authors is a little too visible. But anyone who loves the stories of good spies will find and enjoy hundreds of them here. ■■

This article was published in the Printed Books and Arts section under the heading “Smoke and Mirrors”.

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